A Wisconsin judge ruled the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots violated the state’s voting laws.
Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren ruled drop boxes cannot be used in any future election, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Bohren determined absentee ballots can be returned by person or by mail, but not to a drop box.
The use of drop boxes in Wisconsin elections is not new, but the use of them increased significantly in the 2020 election. During the 2020 presidential election, 500 boxes were in use.
Voters Richard Teigen and Richard Thom brought the case because they believed the use of drop boxes was in conflict with state law, WXOW.com reports.
The ruling hurts Democrats who pushed hard for extensive use of absentee ballots ABC 7 reports. During the 2020 election then-candidate Joe Biden squeaked past President Trump with 21,000 more votes.
Bohren’s ruling prevents this method of ballot harvesting as it requires an individual to present his or her ballot without interference from a third party. It will disallow events such as the 2020 “Democracy in the Park” where election officials accepted ballots throughout the state at 200 city park locations.
The ruling is expected to have far-reaching consequences for the 2022 mid-term elections.
Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Wisconsin voters. In a statement, WILL’s Deputy Council Luke Berg said the Wisconsin Elections Commission provided inaccurate guidance in allowing the drop boxes.
“There are just two legal methods to cast an absentee ballot in Wisconsin: through the mail or in-person at a clerk’s office,” Berg said. “And voters must return their own ballots. We are pleased the court made this clear, providing Wisconsin voters with certainty for forthcoming elections.”
A recent review of the 2020 election conducted by WILL raised suspicion about the use of the absentee ballot drop box votes. The number of additional absentee ballots, approximately 20,000, positively correlated with the additional votes for Joe Biden.
“We think state law is pretty clear, that there are only two ways to return an absentee ballot: by mailing it or delivering it in person,” Berg told Fox 6 News.
“An unstaffed, unsupervised absentee ballot drop box does not meet either of these legal options,” the statement reads. “And it raises significant concerns that elections are not being conducted legally and that Wisconsin voters will not have certainty that their votes will be counted if cast in this manner.”
“Importantly, the ruling prohibits voters from having someone else return their absentee ballots for them,” writes Mike Miller for RedState. “(Again, Democrats hardest hit), which means political groups can’t pick up ballots for ‘voters’ (wink-wink) and also prevent voters from giving their ballots to their spouses and neighbors to return for them.”
“I covered the Wisconsin Election Commission shenanigans and illegalities in multiple chapters of ‘Rigged,’ since they played such a huge role in Biden winning the state,” The Federalist senior editor Molly Hemingway stated in a tweet. “Violated rules and laws in significant ways.”
Cameron Sholty, director of government relations for The Heartland Institute, says the use of absentee voting and drop boxes was in response to the pandemic, but concerns have been raised about their use.
“It became an issue in many states. There were concerns that it’s not secure and could be susceptible to fraud.” said Sholty.
Those who point to the Wisconsin ruling as an example of Republicans making voting more difficult are just being disingenuous, Sholty says.
“I am not aware of any state imposing any laws more onerous than what they had prior to the pandemic,” said Sholty. “In fact, they have expanded access in places like Georgia. It is completely reasonable for states to institute voter identification measures. It’s a commonplace safeguard.”
“It’s the federal takeover of elections, HR-1, that is offensive to me,” said Sholty. “Each state is authorized to regulate and conduct elections.”
University of Illinois political science professor emeritus Robert Weisseberg said this is “one more example of the ‘chess game’ in which political parties try to get a small advantage by manipulating election rules, everything from ballot layout to when the polls are open.”
“In today’s America, elections have become so important,” said Weisseberg. “The squabbling is endless and reflects, alas, the ever-growing role of government in our lives and how some groups have come to worship the ballot as the cure-all for their ills. For them, utopia would arrive if they could win just one more election. With that victory, these fools insist, everybody would be happy, all children would read at grade level, and we’d all live to 110.
“This mentality is dangerous since it never ends and manipulating election law becomes a way of life and, ultimately, democracy suffers,” said Weisseberg.